When we made it back to the barn cellar it was empty. "Perfect, once again we're stuck wasting time looking for them," I mumbled.
"Them who?" Connor asked, while the others took a look around.
"Rachel's dad and daughter, and one of their friends."
"I take it you don't particularly like them."
"I tolerate a lot of people I don't particularly like, that's politics."
"Maybe they went into town. It'd be stupid but-"
I cut Miles off. "This is Charlie and Gene we're talking about. It's a good of a place to start as any."
We headed towards Willoughby, but before we got to the town we ran into a camp the Patriots had set up. The five of us crawled toward the bluff over looking the camp and Miles pulled out his binoculars. He took a look and sighed. "Look," he said handing them to Rachel.
"Who's surprised Charlie's working with the enemy? Because I'm not," I said. Miles and Rachel both shot me a look.
"From those masks, it looks like there's been an outbreak," Rachel told Miles. A wagon pulled up and everyone ran towards it, they loaded a man off the back and took him into one of the tents. "It doesn't look good. We need to go down there."
"We can't, that's suicide," I told her.
"If this is what I think it is, we can't just do nothing."
'Then we send the kid, no one knows him," Miles said. "He can prove his worth."
"Hell no," Connor said.
"None of you are going, that's my father and daughter, they're my responsibility," Rachel said. She stood up and walked down the hill.
"You people are insane," Connor muttered.
We watched as she joined a group of people carrying supplies into the camp. It didn't take long for the Patriots to realize who she was and a group of them approached her. "Was that part of her plan, or does she even have one?"
After waiting around for ages Miles finally got a sign from Rachel and found a note she'd left for him. The outbreak was bad and we needed to break into a Patriot storage facility and find the antidote. We returned to the cellar to discuss.
"You can't be serious!" Connor said. He looked at me. "You get that this is insane, right?"
"Yeah, well it's not like we have much of a choice," I said.
"Look, I saw the bubonic plague in Mexico. I know what outbreaks are like and I am not about to walk back into that because a couple of crazy people I barely know told me to. This isn't my problem."
"Can I have a word with you? Alone," Bass said stepping into the other room. When Connor didn't move, Bass added, "It wasn't a request." Connor followed him leaving me alone with Miles.
"What do you think about the kid, was he worth saving?"
"He's my cousin, Miles."
"Doesn't mean you have to like him. I never really got along with Ben and he was my brother."
"I think he's got a point. He doesn't know any of us; we can't expect him to risk his own life for ours. Hell, I don't even like risking my life for Charlie and Rachel."
"But you know you need our help."
"Unfortunately, it might come in handy. I'm not really in a position to make any more enemies."
"What's Bass's grand plan?" I shrugged. "I know he and Connor want to take the Republic back. Is that what you want?"
"Yeah, I guess. Garrett was right. I can preach about how better the world would be with me in charge, but I'm no better than anyone else. I'm just more determined."
"You words say one thing but your face says another."
"God, Miles, I'm just so tired. Some times I think it would be easier to steal a boat in Savannah and sail to some tiny island and start over."
"You can't have both."
Bass was able to convince Connor to help us and under the cover of night we snuck into town. "Ready?"
"Rachel's sure the antidote is in there?" I asked.
"Perfect." He slid a metal bar under the metal sheets covering the opening in the wall and started to pry it open. It made an awful screeching noise every time he pushed it. "Make a little more noise, why don't you? I don't think the people in California heard you." As the door came open a loud metallic echo sounded through the building. I groaned.
As we walked down the alley towards the center of town we began to see quarantine banners on buildings. The only other people moving around were Patriots. Miles covered his face with a handkerchief and the rest of us did the same. We followed Miles to the building Rachel thought the antidote would be in. We descended the steps into the basement and found an empty room.
"Damn it," Miles muttered.
"What now, Miles?" I asked. "We can't let that spread."
"We'll figure it out."
"Here, Ciara, we can't risk this getting broken. Take this to the train tracks, we'll meet you out there with Truman," Miles told me. He held out the pouch with the syringe of typhus.
"I don't want to touch that."
"Don't be a baby, as long as you don't break it, you'll be fine. Even then, it's in a pouch. Just don't touch it."
"I'll carry it," Connor said. Miles shook his head at me and handed the pouch to Connor.
"See you in a little while," Miles told us.
Connor and I headed toward the train cars. "A little scared of diseases, huh?"
"When I was a younger I visited Florida with my parents for a meeting. There was a yellow fever outbreak and we had to evacuate, not before I saw a lot of people die." I shrugged. "It's stupid, but I was a kid. Things that scare you when you're a kid stick with you, I guess."
"I know what you mean. That's the first thing you've told me about yourself since we left Mexico."
"What do you expect me to do, sit you down and give you some quick facts?"
He shrugged. "What's your favorite color?"
"That's so stupid." I sighed. "Yellow, but nothing too bright and abrasive. More like a sunrise yellow."
"And I'm the stupid one. I like green, just green, nothing fancy." He shook his head. "Sunrise yellow, that's not even a real color."
"If you ask a stupid question you're going to get a stupid answer."
"What's your favorite-"
I pushed him. "Shut up, Connor, we aren't having a sleepover."
"Whoa! I'm carrying the typhus remember?" I took a step away from him. "Anyway, I thought girls talked about boys and braided each other's hair at sleepovers?"
I remembered the first night I'd met Julia and she'd braided my hair and told me about her family. "Yeah, that's it. Want me to braid your hair and tell you good of a kisser your dad is?" He made a face. "Didn't think so. Come on, the train yard is right up here."
Miles and Bass showed up with Truman around sunrise. "Look sunrise yellow," Connor said. I glared at him.
"Got the typhus?" Miles asked. Connor handed it to him.
"What are you going to do with it?" I asked.
"I have a feeling he isn't going to want to take us to the antidote, so I'm going to pressure him a little bit." He pulled the bag off Truman's head and Truman woke up slowly. "Gene's infected," Miles told him.
"He was helping the good people of Willoughby, he'll die a hero," Truman said.
"Except, he isn't going to die. Because you're going to tell us where the antidote is."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
Miles sighed. "I had a feeling you might say that." He pulled the syringe from its pouch. "This is pure typhus. You can thank Rachel, she distilled this especially for you." Truman tried to wiggle away from Miles, but the ropes tying his arms and legs made it difficult for him to get very far. Miles stabbed the needle into his neck. "Now, let's try this again. Where's the antidote?"
"If I tell you, you'll just kill me anyway," Truman said.
"He's right," Bass said.
"Then you can take us to it," Miles said. "How about that?"
"No promises I won't kill him anyway," I mumbled to Connor.
"It's inside the camp," Truman told Miles. "You can't come with me."
"Then we send someone else with you," Miles said. "Connor."
"You know what you're supposed to do?" Bass asked.
"Yeah, I think I've got it." Connor said as he buttoned his Patriot uniform.
Miles handed him a belt. "Don't screw this up."
"I won't." He pulled out his gun and nodded for Truman to lead the way.
"Hey, Connor," I called. He glanced over his shoulder. "Be careful, ok?" He nodded before turning back to follow Truman.
We followed Connor and Truman so Connor would have back up if something went wrong. Of course, I was cursed, something always went wrong. "What's going on?" I whispered.
"They found him," Bass said.
"Do you have the shot?" I asked Miles.
"Not yet. Breathe, Ciara, he's going to be fine."
"I know." Miles pulled the trigger and I jumped. "What's going on now?"
"They're surrendering," Bass told me. "He'll be out of there in a second."
"Jesus, Ciara, you're making me nervous," Miles mumbled. "Come on, we need to meet them down there." We climbed down from our lookout point and went down to the tall weeds just outside of the Patriots camp. I bounced on my heels as I waited for the wagon to pull up. I could hear it and Miles glanced at me. "Ready?" I nodded. As the wagon passed our spot we all hopped into it.
"I would kill for a massage to relieve some of this tension," I mumbled.
"Worried about me?" Connor asked.
"Yes, actually. I told you, I'm cursed."
For a week we holed up at the barn and I was getting incredibly antsy. I circled the barn for what felt like the fifteenth time that day. This time I noticed Connor talking to Charlie under a tree. She walked past him and patted his shoulder. I shook my head and joined him in carrying the water buckets over to the barn. "She's really not worth the effort."
He shrugged. "I like a challenge."
Bass climbed up from the cellar and I sat down my bucket. "Ready to get out of here?" He asked.
"If you're joking, I actually might kill you."
"We're going to New Vegas. In case you hadn't noticed we're a little short on men and I think I know someone who can sell us a few."
"Are mercenaries really a good idea? If they can be bought by us, they can be bought by anyone," I said.
"I'd be more worried about the Patriots killing them than buying them. I doubt they'd be smart enough to use them against us."
"Point taken. When do we leave?"
"As soon as possible."
"I'll get my stuff." When I went down to the cellar, Charlie was packing her backpack up too. "Where are you going?"
"We don't need a baby sitter."
"You don't get a vote."
"Why are you Mathesons so damn annoying?"
"Runs in the family." She hopped up and headed up stairs. I sighed but followed her. We walked over to the wagon and tossed our bags in.
"What is she doing?" Bass asked me. I hopped up into the back.
"She is right here," Charlie said.
"Apparently she's coming with us," I told him. Connor looked over his shoulder and smiled at Charlie who just hopped into the wagon and sat down next to me.
"Want to sit up front?" Connor asked me. "I'll switch."
I glanced at Charlie, who was ignoring him. "Nope, I'm good."